A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: Novel Summary: Chapter XXXVI - Final P.S. By M.T.
Chapter XXXVI - Final P.S. By M.T.
Chapter XXXVI begins with the band of slaves in London. We are told that it is unlawful for anyone to speak to slaves in chains and that Hank is still considering escaping. Sandy passes them, but does not recognize the king or Hank.
After a man offers to buy Hank for 22 dollars, with the king thrown in, Hank frees himself that night and beats the slave driver. Hank and his adversary, who is not the slave driver after all, are marched to prison.
In court, in Chapter XXXVII, Hank is released as he says he works for Lord Grip and the other man was beating him. On his return to the slave quarters Hank discovers that everyone has left. It is explained that the other slaves rose against the master and all are now condemned to death. Hank finds a telephone office and asks Clarence to send Sir Launcelot with 500 men. Unfortunately, Hank is then betrayed by another slave in the street and is re-captured. He is told that they are all to be hung that afternoon.
All of the slaves are on the scaffold waiting to be hung in Chapter XXXVIII. The king is telling the crowd that he is king and, of course, the crowd laugh. Three slaves are hung, one by one, and then the king is blindfolded. Hank freezes at first and then jumps to release him as the noose is placed around his neck. At that moment, Sir Launcelot arrives with the required 500 men: they are on bicycles.
By Chapter XXXIX, Hank and the king have returned to Camelot. There is an advertisement that Hank is to do battle with Sir Sagramor in a tournament. Hank regards it as such: 'I was entering the lists to either destroy knight-errantry or be its victim.'
The crowd laughs as Hank enters the tournament field dressed in a gymnast costume; Sir Sagramor is wearing traditional armor. Hank wins the battle by lassoing his opponent. Several other knights follow and Hank lassos all of them. Sir Sagramor challenges Hank again and Hank is made vulnerable, as Merlin has stolen his rope and Sir Sagramor has a sword. Sir Launcelot offers to lend Hank one, but Sir Sagramor says this is against the rules. Hank wins the battle, however, because he shoots his opponent with a revolver he has secreted. He then challenges all of the knights (in a bluff) and 500 take him up on it. Fortunately, they submit to his prowess after nine are killed. Hank regards the success as the death of knight-errantry.
Chapter XL begins three years later. Hank reveals how after the tournament he no longer felt he had to work in secret and he also maintained his challenge to the knights to destroy 'massed chivalry'. Slavery has disappeared in this period and taxation has been 'equalized'. He has been employing knights to keep them busy and still wants to overthrow the Catholic Church to replace it with Protestantism. He would also like a republic after the death of King Arthur. It is revealed at this point that Hank and Sandy have formed a relationship and have a child, called Hello-Central. Because she has been poorly, Hank and Sandy take her to France to recover. The narrative then shifts momentarily to explain how Hank has been considering replacing the tournament with baseball, and that the knights insist on still wearing their armor.
In the following chapter a description of Hank and Sandy's marriage is given. They are still in France and Hello-Central is feeling better, but the ship that returned to England for supplies has still not returned after two weeks. Hank is anxious and travels back to England to find out what has happened. There are no lights on in Camelot; the Church now has power.
In Chapter XLII, Clarence explains to Hank what has happened in his absence. King Arthur was told of the rumours about Guenever and Sir Launcelot's affair and war broke out between the parties of the king and the knight. By saving Guenever from the stake, Sir Launcelot killed many. Whilst away, King Arthur left power with Mordred who then tried to usurp him. The king is now dead, the queen is a nun and, according to Clarence, 'the Church is the master now'. It is explained that the Church picked servants and crew for the ship that took Hank to France, and this is why he and his family were left there.
Hank and Clarence then put plans into action to blow up 'our civilization'. Electric fences are also erected and gatling guns are positioned. They declare the state is a republic in the newspaper.
In 'The Battle of the Sand-Belt', which is Chapter XLIII, Hank and his men are in Merlin's cave in preparation to blow everything up. They do not want their enemies to turn their own weapons against them. On the night, the surrounding knights attempt an ambush, but all are electrocuted. After water and guns are turned on them as well, over 25,000 men have been killed. This chapter ends with Hank saying that within an hour his fortune changed again and it was his own fault. He ends by saying he does not have the heart to write about it.
The final chapter (Chapter XLIV) of the main novel is narrated by Clarence. He explains how The Boss wanted to help the wounded. He bent over a knight who asked for help and the knight stabbed him. Merlin disguises himself as a woman and cooks for them. The men are trapped with the poisonous air of the dead who surround them - and it is suggested Merlin is poisoning them too. This finishes with Merlin saying they will all die in this place except Hank - he 'shall sleep thirteen centuries'.
The final section is entitled 'Final P.S. By M.T.' (the playful implication is that this is recorded by Twain) and this is set in the present once more. The Yankee of the title, Hank, is delirious and is talking to Sandy. The novel ends with his death.
These final chapters offer some closure to the reader. The technological advances introduced by Hank are destroyed ostensibly to stop the enemies using their own weapons against them. This is also a necessary plot device as otherwise the course of history would have been altered.
The final note by M.T. gives the novel a frame as the readers return to the introductory voice. This gives balance and closure to the narrative. The use of the initials M.T. draw us to believe that this is a 'true' tale, although of course it cannot be, as the author plays with notions of authenticity. By giving his initials, Twain teases us to believe that he actually met the Connecticut Yankee.The destruction inflicted by technological improvements is referred to, as with the 25,000 deaths, but it is barely examined. It is possible that the 'facts' stand alone without any need for further extrapolation, that is, that genocide is made easier with the help of science. This is a prophetic point as the 20th Century has been dominated by the fear of unleashed technological progress (as with the Nazi death camps and the atom bomb, for instance).